The “black-eyed” bean from the Alto Sele Valley is an ancient variety, grown in the Oliveto Citra, Senerchia, Calabritto, Caposels, Valva, Colliano and Contursi Terme townships, where there are significant sources of water like the Sele and the Acquabianca, which take care of its watering needs. The lands are fertile, irrigated and with average slope, the climate is typical of the areas around Campania, allowing the bean to grow and acquire its organoleptic properties.
This bean owes its name to the unmistakable dark spot that surrounds the hilum, a kind of small black eye on the white bean that is called “occhietiello” in local dialect. The plant is a climber and can reach over 2m in height.
Harvesting has up to now been done by hand in November, depending on the bean’s ripening; after that it is dried in the sun, shelled and conserved.
Production and sale of the black-eyed bean was significant up to 1940. In the ‘70s, the area given to growing the bean was dramatically reduced because of the high production costs, to introduce more remunerative farming, as well as many young people abandoning agriculture, and the earthquake in 1980.
It has always been a basic farmer’s food, and it was used in preparing typical local dishes such as soups. It cooks quickly, it is easily digestible and it keeps its organoleptic properties unchanged because of its very thin skin.
A typical recipe from the area is the “Trappeto beans”, with beans flavoured with 2-3 cloves of garlic, wild mountain oregano and extra virgin olive oil. They are also excellent with fresh, home-made pasta like lagane, or in vegetable soups.